A visit to emptiness, sadness and grief
We were just about to go and get our 8-week-old puppy Henry from the breeder, when she called and said she wanted to keep him for some more days because he had started to have diarrhea and also a few vomits. It’s normal that puppies react to stress, and here the mom had started to abandon her puppies (as she is supposed to at this age), some of the puppies were soon to be given away to their new homes, and as the breeder said, “they also pick up on my emotions, feeling that there’s a shift to happen”.
As a trauma therapist I can see all of these events to be reasons enough to get an upset tummy!
Unfortunately, that was not the whole cause, if at all, and 4 days later he passed away.
He had got infected by a parasite/worm that they usually beat themselves or with medication, but Henry and one of his brothers didn’t make it and died with just a few hours in between.
I was totally unprepared for this. Since we decided to get a dog last summer and when in August, I learnt that the mummy was pregnant, I had prepared myself in every way to welcome him. I have read several books on how to bring up a dog, joined an online training, watched YouTube clips and spoken to experienced dog owners (neither me or my husband has ever had a dog ourselves) And the last things we did was to “puppy proof” our home and buy quite a lot of toys, bowls, leashes, chewers, brushes and so on.
All this to say, I didn’t for a second imagine that something would happen, I was just so happy looking forward to welcoming our new family member.
When I got the call that Henry didn’t make it, I thought my heart would break. A heaviness in my chest so dark and dense that I could hardly breath. I cried. A lot.
I know I have a very rational side and maybe because I’m a nurse, I’m quick to move to biological reasons why things happen in the body and why sometimes the body isn’t strong enough to fight it (“survival of the fittest” according to Darwin) and, leaning towards this rational side of me has many times “saved me” from uncomfortable emotions such as sadness. Which is very helpful professionally, for example at times when you as a nurse are the support for a dying patient and his/her relatives.
I don’t know how I knew; I just knew that I didn’t want to bypass what was so present in my body. I allowed myself to feel everything that showed up and it helped me to name it; like this dark, dense heaviness in my chest. My tummy felt empty. My throat felt tight like it had a collar around it, pulling hard from all around. When I tried to swallow, I had a sense that my throat on the inside was swollen too. Behind my eyes I felt “alone”. I sensed a hollow place there were tears just kept coming like a never-ending flood.
I received so much love and support from people around us which touches me deeply, and I know it helped me not to get stuck in grieving.
Again, life is allowing me to grow in the most unexpected directions…
I notice how I by allowing all these intense emotions and sensations in my body, washing over me like waves, I strangely enough feel comforted by its motions. It’s like a force moving me forward, and the less I struggle to change what is happening; by fighting it or trying to suppress it, it transforms into something else…
Today I woke up with so much gratitude in my heart. There is still a sadness, but more silent and peaceful. I’m in awe about how this little puppy, which I never met, managed to touch my heart so deeply! And I did question if I would be a good dog mom or if I would be able to raise him “the right way”…I now know that I’m so ready to welcome a dog in my life. There is room in my heart and in our home. I wish it would have been Henry, but life wanted something else.
And I’m grateful for this experience that showed me the depth and healing power of allowing things to just be. If this was Henrys purpose in his short life, I’m forever grateful and will never forget my first dog ❤